Is N.Korea Abandoning Its Quest for Self-Reliance?

      April 13, 2012 13:01

      This undated picture released on Thursday by the North Korean Workers Party newspaper is the first official portrait of leader Kim Jong-un in a suit rather than military uniform. /[North] Korean Central News Agency

      A congress of North Korea's ruling Workers Party on Wednesday revised regulations replacing many references to the "juche" or self-reliance ideology with "the principles of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il." That suggests that the impoverished country is moving away from disastrous attempts to prosper in total isolation.

      The official Rodong Sinmun daily on Thursday said the preface to the new party regulations states that its ultimate purpose is to spread Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il's principles "to achieve full self-reliance." The preface previously said the purpose was to spread the juche ideology.

      Another segment in the regulations now states that it is a "juche-style revolutionary party based solely on the principles of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il." It used to refer to it as a "juche-style revolutionary party based solely on the juche ideology."

      Ryu Dong-ryeol at the Police Science Institute said the aim is to combine Kim Il-sung's juche ideology with Kim Jong-il's songun or military-first doctrine.

      There is speculation that the North could abandon the juche ideology altogether under new leader Kim Jong-un. But others disagree. "In North Korea, the juche ideology is everywhere like the air we breathe," said Kim Young-soo of Sogang University. "Just because it's mentioned less doesn't mean it will disappear."

      Meanwhile, the new regulations changed the immediate goal from becoming "a powerful and prosperous nation" to "a powerful nation," apparently lowering its sights since no great leap forward seems plausible.

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